Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: May 13, 2002

THE CLOSED Kona Surf Resort & Country Club in the Keauhou resort on the Big Island could re-open as a Sheraton brand property as early as 2003, according to its new owner, Koa Hotel LLC. Koa Hotel acquired the resort from Otaka and intends to spend $40 million on renovations, according to Richard Wheelock, a real estate advisor to Koa Hotel. The 553-room property opened in 1971, but was closed by Otaka in June 2000, Wheelock said. The hotel sits on 20-acres next to Keauhou Bay and has about 22,000 square feet of meetings space.

ROLL THOSE 7s: Continental Airlines is adding more seats to Hawaii Oct. 27. The airline will substitute a 777 aircraft for a 767-400 on one of its two daily Houston-Honolulu flights. That will give Continental 48 more seats per day on the route. The equipment change will allow Continental to "meet the growing demand for travel to Hawaii during the fall and winter months," said Ron Wright, managing director of Continental in Hawaii.

WANDERING STAR: The Norwegian Star will make Kahului on Maui its permanent port on that island. The Star previously called at Lahaina on Maui where it had to anchor and use tenders to ferry passengers ashore. Kahului, on the opposite side of Maui from Lahaina, offers a dock where the Star can pull along side. "Lack of sufficient shore-side tender availability," was the reason for the move cited by NCL chief executive Colin Veitch. In March, NCL changed its port call on the Big Island from Kona to Hilo for the same reason.

ROOM REVENUE from Hawaii's hotels dropped to $641 million in the first quarter of the year, down from $738 million in the same period last year, which is a 15% decline, according to Hospitality Advisors. The company surveyed 151 hotels that control about 72% of the room inventory in the state. "While the substantial discounting and drop in occupancy in the market -- particularly in the high-end -- has driven overall room revenues downward, it nonetheless provides tremendous values for consumers to travel to Hawaii," said Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisors.

HELP WANTED: Hawaiian Airlines is scouring the country for an executive to replace president and COO Robert Zoller, who resigned April 15. Vice chairman and CEO Paul Casey took over the president's job after Zoller left. But a spokesman confirmed that Zoller's replacement could eventually take Casey's position as CEO in addition to the president's job. "Quite honestly, who we're looking to replace is Zoller," the spokesman said. "Paul is still our CEO." Hawaiian was in merger talks with Aloha Airlines, but the deal fell through in March and officially was terminated in April. The uncertainty of a post-merger management team was what prompted Zoller to leave, the spokesman said.

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